The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

Hanchett Hoops: IHSAA boys season preview

Calvin Prenkert
Junior, then sophomore Noah Jager shoots a three pointer during a game against New Albany on Nov. 25, 2017.

It’s the start of a new season for hoosier basketball, as high school teams will duke it out across the state. Warren Central (4A), Culver Academy (3A), Oak Hill (2A) and Morristown (1A) were your champions last season. Yes, unfortunately, Indiana uses a class system in basketball, meaning you’ll never see a Milan Miracle again. It is worth noting, however, that Bloomington South (4A, enrollment 1700) will visit Bloomfield (1A, enrollment 400) on Dec. 18. With that said, expect a weekly column updating you on all the hooping hysteria in the hoosier state. I’ll work in 2A and 1A competition as it arises.

4A Preview:

Central Indiana

Ben Davis took home the title just two seasons ago. Georgia State commit Jalen Windham is expected to lead the Giants in scoring. Ben Davis will face a difficult schedule, but they have a solid group that could take them deep in the tournament.

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Carmel was runner up last season and has consistently competed at the championship level. John-Michael Mulloy starts for the Greyhounds at center, and will head to Butler next year after committing over Indiana, Purdue and Syracuse. He’s easily one of the top big men in the state. Carmel could make another deep run this year.

Cathedral boasts stud shooting guard Armaan Franklin, an IU commit. Franklin averaged 23 points, 3.8 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game last season. Big man Justin Hensley will be a key contributor, as will point guard James Franklin. Cathedral will be a tough opponent in the postseason.

Center Grove’s Trayce Jackson-Davis is arguably the top recruit in the state this year, targeted by Indiana University and other top teams. Romeo Langford led New Albany to a thirteen point victory over the Trojans last year in the regional championship. This year the roles could be reversed.

Lawrence Central returns their top two scorers from last season, junior guards Dre Davis and Nijel Pack. A lot remains to be settled among the top Marion County schools.

Lawrence North will be tested throughout their season, facing one of the toughest schedules in the state. Senior Jared Hankins, an Indiana State commit, is one of the top class of 2019 recruits in the state. Sophomore D.J. Hughes, a 6-foot-7 inch power forward, will be a big part of the Wildcats’ scoring this season. They’re part of the sectional of death in Marion County.

Warren Central upended all doubters when they finished their 2018-2019 season a perfect 32-0, the first perfect season since South’s 2009 squad. However, the senior laden squad lost a chunk of their core members to graduation. David Bell, the superstar wideout for the football team, is expected to be a major contributor for the Warriors. Senior Jesse Bingham, a 6-foot-6 small forward, had offers from several D-1 schools but opted to stay home and will join UIndy for his college career. Unfortunately for Warren Central, they’re stuck in the toughest sectional in the state (joined by North Central, Cathedral, Lawrence North, Lawrence Central and Arsenal Tech). If they can get through the sectional, the Warriors could go back to back.

Zionsville is a team on the rise in Indiana high school basketball. The Eagles feature Purdue commit Isaiah Thompson at point guard, who led the Eagles in scoring both his sophomore and junior seasons. Other contributors will be forward Nathan Childress and big man Hogan Orbaugh. Zionsville will be a major threat this season.

Southern Indiana

Bloomington South typically doesn’t face the challenging opponents their Indianapolis-area counterparts do, but they have a storied tradition under Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame coach J.R. Holmes. South lost star Chance Coyle to graduation but returns Anthony Leal (top 2020 Indiana prospect) at small forward, who will play a huge role this season. Other key returnees include junior point guard Noah Jager and sophomore Connor Hickman. South gets an early test Nov. 24 at New Albany. The team may lack in size this season, but should make up for it with their fat clips.

Castle was upset by Evansville North in their sectional last year but feature Clemson commit Alex Hemenway. Hemenway is one of the top guards in the state. The Knights should be able to avenge their sectional defeat and face a weaker path to semi-states this season.

Floyd Central pulled off a shocking upset last season against rival New Albany. The Highlanders finished the regular season 22-1. Their only loss? The Bloomington South Panthers, 55-50. Expect Indiana State recruit Cobie Barnes to dominate scoring, while senior point guard Nick Winchell will play an important role as well.

Jeffersonville returns junior forward Tre Coleman and junior guard Jacob Jones. Both played big roles as sophomores last season for the Red Devils. Jeffersonville won’t face many challenges during the regular season; however, I don’t see them beating Floyd Central or New Albany in what is a really difficult sectional.

New Albany’s Romeo Langford (and Sean East) graduated, but the team had a group of underclassman contributors last season and will compete for the title again. Expect junior forwards Trey Hourigan and Julien Hunter, as well as senior Derrick Stevenson to play big roles on the interior. After losing the aforementioned guards, players like senior Chris Johnson and junior Darin Starks will take on substantial roles filling the void. This is a good New Albany team, but I don’t see them getting past Center Grove in regionals.

Northern Indiana

South Bend Riley had an undefeated regular season only to lose by 20 to Carmel in semi-states last year. This should be another well balanced crew for the Wildcats. Comparably, they also have a much easier than path than others to semi-states.

Valparaiso could be the top team in “The Region” this season. Led by Purdue commit Brandon Newman, the Vikings could make a deep run if they can get past South Bend Riley.

OSports Pre-Season Top Ten

  1. Warren Central
  2. Center Grove
  3. Carmel
  4. Zionsville
  5. New Albany
  6. Floyd Central
  7. Jeffersonville
  8. Ben Davis
  9. Bloomington South
  10. Cathedral


Central Indiana

Danville made a run to semi-states last season, losing in a close match against Evansville Bosse. Danville’s Connor Jones and Dillon Ware each averaged more than 10 points per game for the Warriors; they’ll lead the team in scoring this season. Danville has championship potential, Culver may just prove too talented.

Indianapolis Crispus Attucks also lost a chunk of their core players to graduation. Senior Harold Bennett will lead the Tigers in scoring, but he’ll be joined by an inexperienced crop.

Marion’s high power offense is led by sophomore guard Jalen Blackmon, who averaged 22.4 points per game as a freshman. However, the youth doesn’t stop there. Junior Jaklyn Thomas, put up 15.3 points per game, and experienced seniors Latrell Simpson and Dre Aguilar come together to form one of the top 3A teams in the state this season. Marion’s depth could take them to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in March.

New Castle bested South 64-57 last season, one of our Panthers only losses. Expect senior forward Mason Gillis to carry the team, as he averaged 21.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season. Gillis will be heading to West Lafayette next season to join the Boilermakers.

Southern Indiana

Edgewood started last season getting thrashed 82-37 by our Panthers, but they went on to win 22 of their next 27. Senior guard Joe Kido and the Mustangs can’t compete with South, but they could make a decent run in the 3A tournament.

Evansville Bosse beat Culver Academy in the regular season, but the Eagles got revenge in the championship. Kiyron Powell, a center with an offer from Xavier, can be a threat in the paint. The Bulldogs got a big boost this offseason when Evansville North guard Kolten Sanford announced his transfer to the school. The rest of the Bulldogs lineup is inexperienced but quite talented.

Evansville Memorial joins crosstown rival Bosse in losing much of their starting lineup to graduation. Seniors Sam Devault, Michael Lindauer and Branson Combs will be depended upon to step up this season. Rick Wilgus is one of the better coaches in the state with over 400 wins.

Evansville Reitz had a poor 8-13 season last year, but boasts the number one class of 2021 point guard in the country with Khristian Lander. Lander will be joined by fellow sophomore Drew Carlton, who will join together to form an excellent backcourt for the Panthers. Reitz is a young team with a bright future. I think they’re one season away from being something really special.

Heritage Hills features juniors Murray Becher and Simon Scherry, who form one of the top 3A backcourts in the state. 6-foot-8 sophomore Blake Sisley figures to be a double-double threat every night and someone who can also shoot it from distance. The Patriots will have to beat either Bosse or Memorial to get out of their sectional but could be capable of doing so this year.

Northern Indiana

Culver Academy returns every starter from last season. Junior Trey Galloway, senior Ethan Brittain-Watts and junior Deontae Craig each averaged more than 13 points per game, and they will lead things offensively for the Eagles. Culver Academy definitely has the potential to repeat as state champions this year.

Mishawaka Marian was edged by Culver 48-47 in the postseason and will look to avenge last season’s bitter end. Junior Jaden Ivey is a great shooting guard for the Knights. As is the story with several teams listed, the question is whether they can get past Culver.

West Lafayette’s football team is in the midst of a deep postseason run, but their basketball team is capable of matching them. Senior Gabe Klinker will be key to the Red Devils’ success this season. Can they beat Culver?

OSports Pre-Season Top Ten

  1. Culver Academy
  2. New Castle
  3. Danville
  4. Marion
  5. Evansville Bosse
  6. Mishawaka Marian
  7. West Lafayette
  8. Evansville Memorial
  9. Indianapolis Crispus Attucks
  10. Heritage Hills

Looking forward to a great high school basketball season! The Panthers start their road to a title Tuesday, Nov. 20 when they visit Edgewood.

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Logan Hanchett
Logan Hanchett, Editor
Hit a dinger that still has not landed in the 2018 softball "game" against Gothic.
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